Needless to say, the industry has vehemently defended sucralose (and all other chemical sweeteners), stating that it rapidly passes unmetabolized through your body and therefore has no biological effects. Alas, recent research has punched yet another giant hole in the argument that sucralose is a biologically inert chemical, showing it is in fact metabolized and that it accumulates in fat cells.
The study in question was published in the online version of the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health August 21, 2018. An interview with the authors can be found on Inverse.
Ten rats were given an average dose of 80.4 milligrams (mg) of sucralose per kilo per day (k/day) for 40 days. According to the researchers, this dosage is “within the range utilized in historical toxicology studies submitted for regulatory approval in North America, Europe and Asia.”
Urine and feces were collected daily from each rat, and were analyzed using ultrahigh performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC–MS/MS), which “revealed two new biotransformation products that have not previously been reported.”
The two metabolites are acetylated forms of sucralose that are lipophilic, meaning they dissolve in and combine with fats. Sucralose itself is far less lipophilic, which has been part of the safety argument. According to the authors:
“These metabolites were present in urine and feces throughout the sucralose dosing period and still detected at low levels in the urine 11 days after discontinuation of sucralose administration and six days after sucralose was no longer detected in the urine or feces.
The finding of acetylated sucralose metabolites in urine and feces do not support early metabolism studies, on which regulatory approval was based, that claimed ingested sucralose is excreted unchanged (i.e., not metabolized).
The historical metabolic studies apparently failed to detect these metabolites in part because investigators used a methanol fraction from feces for analysis along with thin layer chromatography and a low-resolution linear radioactivity analyzer.
Further, sucralose was found in adipose tissue in rats two weeks after cessation of the 40-day feeding period even though this compound had disappeared from the urine and feces.”
So, not only is sucralose metabolized, these metabolites accumulate in your fat tissues, where they remain for “an extended period of time” after you stop consuming sucralose. In all, these findings led the authors to conclude:
“These new findings of metabolism of sucralose in the gastrointestinal tract and its accumulation in adipose tissue were not part of the original regulatory decision process for this agent and indicate that it now may be time to revisit the safety and regulatory status of this organochlorine artificial sweetener.”
Healthier Sugar Substitutes
Two of the best sugar substitutes are from the plant kingdom: Stevia and Lo Han Kuo (also spelled Luo Han Guo). Stevia, a highly sweet herb derived from the leaf of the South American stevia plant, is sold as a supplement. It’s completely safe in its natural form and can be used to sweeten most dishes and drinks.
Lo Han Kuo is similar to Stevia, but it’s a bit more expensive and harder to find. In China, the Lo Han fruit has been used as a sweetener for centuries, and it’s about 200 times sweeter than sugar. A third alternative is to use pure glucose, also known as dextrose.
Dextrose is only 70 percent as sweet as sucrose, so you’ll end up using a bit more of it for the same amount of sweetness, making it slightly more expensive than regular sugar. Still, it’s well worth it for your health as it does not contain any fructose whatsoever. Contrary to fructose, glucose can be used directly by every cell in your body and as such is a far safer sugar alternative.